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Consumers Consider Soup an All-Time Favorite
In 2011, data from Euromonitor International showed that in the United States, soup had a market size of US$4.3 billion, and forecasted to have a compound annual growth rate of 1% or approximately US$4.6 billion by 2016.
The study also showed that canned or preserved soup has the largest market size, while chilled soup experienced the largest value sales growth in 2011. Euromonitor International’s data, on the other hand, showed that soup consumptions occurs mostly in the home as a main meal, and it is mostly eaten at lunch, with 55.7% of eatings, compared to 40.8% of eatings at dinner.
Even food operators are capitalizing on the popularity of soups. In one survey conducted by Technomic early this year, 46% of the respondents said they visit certain restaurants because they enjoy the soup. Almost half of the customers who were asked for the survey, on the other hand, said they would want to try new and unique soup recipes.
Many non-commercial operators are also putting their bets on soups. According to Robert Lewandoski, director for food and nutrition at Bayonne Medical Center in New Jersey, hot soup is a liquid asset for many non-commercial operations because of its low food cost and high profit margin.
“Certainly it is a comfort food, a staple of Western culture,” Lewandoski said. “Soup sells even when it’s hot outside, and when its cold, people like it even more,” he added.
Because soups is universally perceived as healthful and affordable, it has remained popular.
Katherine Pennington, director of food and nutrition services at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, explained that the reason why soup has remained as a big seller is because most people think it is a healthful option that offers good value as well.
“Soup is considered healthy, but it also is perceived to have good value for the price,” she said. “You certainly get a nice sampling of food groups, it’s warm and it gives you a feeling of comfort.”
At the University of Maryland in College Park, soup has remained a constant best-seller among students. Joe Muleneaux, director of nutrition and food service, said students see soups as a quick, easy and hot meal. Soup’s best selling point, according to Mulineaux, is that it is portable, an advantage for students-on-the-go.
In a research published by Ken Albala, a food historian at the University of the Pacific in California, he said that despite the big changes in the way people eat and the major shifts in nutritional theory and medicine, convalescent cookery has remained "remarkably constant." He noted that as far back as the 12th century, physicians have recommended chicken soup to sooth persons with colds and the practice has been carried on to this day.
But soups are not only associated with colds. According to Azmina Govindji, a dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, soup cover all bases – psychological, physiological and nutritional.
"When you're feeling very sorry for yourself, psychologically you need to be comforted. On the nutritional side, it does make you feel better if you have fluid through soup. Physiologically, it's a vehicle to get essential nutrients from vegetables, as people struggle with getting five-a-day and you can have three of your five in one bowl," Govindji noted.
Food psychologist Christy Fergusson said the psychological links people have with food do stem from childhood ."That is a connection we make on a subconscious level as we grow up, so when we want to feel comforted we look to what our mothers would have provided.”
"Over time we build up food associations and there's also a sense of connection with our homes - we like to think of them as warm and cozy. There's a definite tie there to our appreciation of warm and comforting food," she explained.
According to a 2011 study in the journal Psychological Science, students who viewed chicken soup as comfort food felt a greater sense of belonging after having eaten it than did those who did not eat soup.
Indeed, people have a hundred and one reasons why they love soups. One writer enumerated her reasons why she love soups. In her post, Vrai-lean-uh said soups are “wonderful and problem-solvers.” Among her reasons are “they tend to be flexible,” “pretty well-rounded meal,” “make amazing leftovers,” “good and healthy meal”, and “generally inexpensive.”
Another blog writer who is a nutritional therapist, admitted to having soup as his standard food for breakfast instead of the usual breakfast fare like cereals, oatmeal, pancake, or sandwiches. He cited that fact that soups are ‘great when you’re in a rush,” “soups are light yet nourishing,” and best to combat “cold weather.”
As the demand for soup keeps growing, food companies are competing in terms of price, accessibility, taste and availability. Recently, weight loss enthusiasts discovered that soups can help those who want to shed some pounds. In fact, soups are often listed as one of the foods that should be added to a person’s diet if he wants to lose weight since these are not only filling, it can also be healthy.
Soupman, Inc. (http://originalsoupman.com/soup-shop/dining-near-you) launched in 2011 an innovative new line of “Skinny Soups”, which contained less than 150 calorie per eight ounce serving but still contained the rich flavors and healthy ingredients of the other variants. “Since our founding, The Original SoupMan has always offered delicious, nutritionally balanced meals,” said Arnold Casale, the Company’s CEO.
The Original SoupMan’s Skinny Soups provide a healthy, nutritional meal in varieties including Butternut Squash, Corn Chowder, Chicken Vegetable, Garden Vegetable, Italian Wedding, Lentil, Minestrone and Tomato Basil.
Soupman is engaged in manufacturing and selling soup to grocery chains, and other outlets and to its franchised restaurants under the brand name. The company sold its soups in retail packages for consumers in the frozen aisle in supermarkets and grocery stores for the heat and serve market.